How To Muffle the Madness

Perhaps you stepped on the scale and saw a number that made you want to cry. Maybe your bank account can’t support a food habit, your three best clients quit you, your significant other left you, or some other heart-rending, life-changing event has occurred. Or, maybe NOTHING has happened and that is the problem.

Whatever is making you feel like a crumpled paper towel left at the bottom of the trash can, it’s not a fun way to feel, and once you find yourself in a downward spiral it can be extremely difficult to make necessary changes and get yourself rotating in the right direction. Even thinking about that word, “changes,” can increase the speed of your descent. It’s just so overwhelming.

I’ve found myself in that unhappy spiral, rapidly spinning toward some unseen, terrifying “bottom” more than once. In fact, since I have a pretty active and detail-oriented imagination, it happens almost weekly. I imagine tripping, stubbing my toe, developing gangrene, having my leg amputated, not being able to exercise, gaining a hundred pounds, developing diabetes and heart disease, not having health insurance, declaring bankruptcy, losing my house and car, and living on the streets until I die in a ditch of a heart attack. Or something like that.

When these scenarios start playing in my mind, they multiply like cobwebs on the ceiling, getting thicker and nastier by the minute. Obviously, since I continue to get out of bed and go on living most days, I’ve figured out how to stop the madness and carry on. Okay, it would be more accurate to say I’ve figured out how to muffle the madness. It never really stops. I won’t lie to you and say that it does.

The first step is to take a shower and put on real clothes. It’s certainly acceptable, maybe even advisable, to spend a day here and there, now and then, just wearing your jammies and laying around. When you grumble because you are being forced to put on pants more than once a week or so, you should probably start forcing yourself to get dressed daily for a while. And if someone mentions that they are a little worried about you because you seem to have stopped brushing your hair, it might be a good idea to take a look in a mirror.

Once you are clean, and dressed, the rest is easy. Just do one tiny thing to improve your situation. When my house is a mess, I sweep the floor. It’s amazing how much difference a swept floor makes. When I feel like my business is failing, I write one blog post, send one email, or make one phone call. Just do one little thing.

Doing one small thing might not fix whatever your problem is, and you might feel like all you are doing is throwing a teaspoon of water on a raging fire, but then again, doing that one thing could make you feel better. When you get right down to it, that’s what you need as you imagine yourself tumbling toward failure – you need to feel better.

Once you feel a tiny bit better, you can go on to choosing a second tiny thing to do, but when you feel crushed by the weight of all those tasks waiting for you, don’t think about them. Just choose one and take care of it. If you can’t do anything else, that’s okay, you can choose another small thing for later, or even for tomorrow. But eventually, you are going to want to do a second small thing, and then – surprise! – you are spinning in the right direction again.

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